‘Looking after yourself and asking for support is vital when a loved one is ill’ – Saira Khan


Saira Khan says her mum is being cared for as an inpatient and that she has found it hard to switch off due to her worries. However, she is planning to take time off when her mum leaves the hospital

Saira Khan’s mum has been taken ill and is being cared for by the NHS

When a loved one is suddenly taken seriously ill and admitted to hospital, it is very difficult to deal with your emotions. I know only too well the feelings of hopelessness and despair because my own dear mum is being cared for as an inpatient right now.

What’s made it even worse is that I’m away on holiday and agonizing over whether I should return home.

My brothers say no because there is nothing much I can do for her right now. She is being well cared for and is only allowed one visitor for an hour a day.

We’ve all agreed that I’m better off calling her every day and trying to enjoy my break so that I can come back re-energized to face what the future brings.

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Sunday Mirror columnist Saira Khan

I’ve already planned to take time off to look after my mum when hopefully she is allowed out of hospital.

But I’m still finding it very hard to switch off, so I have been looking online to find any tips and support there might be for people in my situation who are overcome with worry about loved ones.

Most advice is that you have to start with looking after your own health in order to help others.

The website Goodtherapy.org offers some great suggestions for coping when a loved one is very ill. It says the first thing to do is to “get centered”.

Ask yourself, are you getting enough nutritious food? Enough sleep? Are you able to go for a walk?

It rightly says you can’t drive a car on an empty gas tank, and advises: “Take a minute to make sure you include some element of self-care.”

I am forever telling people to look after themselves first in order to help others, but here I am, not practicing what I preach. It’s so valuable to be reminded.

Goodtherapy recommends you “get connected” with medical staff to ensure you’re not left in the dark about what is happening. Ask about the results of scans, biopsies and tests, and what they’re going to do. Being informed helps enormously.

It then suggests seeking support. I’m not great at asking for help. But this time I have reached out to my brothers, who have been remarkably supportive and helped me not to feel guilty about not being there.

Other advice is to “get hope”. This is what really helped me to put my thoughts and feelings into perspective.

Goodtherapy says: “When someone is diagnosed with a serious illness, it may be hard to know what the future holds. There is a fine line between facing a significant medical diagnosis realistically, and holding on to hope for recovery.

“You may find yourself wavering between hoping for the best and yet fearing the worst. Reach out and allow others to help. If you have a spiritual path, this is a good time to spend sometimes connecting with your faith.”

I hope this advice helps others going through a tough time with a sick loved one. I’m so grateful for our NHS. My mom is in the best possible place. I owe it to her to be positive and useful in her time of need of her.

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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